Want to hear something ironic? I’m about to write about finding rest and less stress in your day and both of my children are whining at me for something apparently no other person on the planet can do except me.
I know you’ve been there. And if it’s not your kids, it’s your boss or coworkers or your husband. Maybe it’s your house screaming for attention.
The point is, we all have something in our lives that demands our time, and if we’re not careful, we become consumed and forget to take care of ourselves.
If we are constantly pouring into the people and things we love without remembering to rest and refill, we will eventually run out of anything to give and become exhausted and bitter.
I know it can be extremely difficult to take real time away in this fast-paced, expensive world, so here are some easy ways to take care of yourself that will go a long way!
Allow Grace For Yourself
This is first because it is so important and yet so difficult. This does not come naturally to me. I’ve had several breakdowns with my husband since I started back to work where I’ve felt like a failure because the house is neglected and the kids are acting out because they need more of my attention. I feel guilty for trying to take care of the house while the kids watch a movie or I feel bad that Tim is coming home from work to piles of laundry because the kids and I played all day. It’s hard to find balance and we have to give ourselves some grace when we can’t do it all. Doing something is better than doing nothing and when it comes to the little things in life, done is better than perfect.
Set Realistic Boundaries
If you work, don’t check your email outside of work hours. I promise it can wait. If it’s a real emergency, they’ll call. If you have small children, shut the bathroom door whenever you’re in there. Take a 10-minute shower in peace. Seriously, sometimes that 2-minute pee break can be just the recharge you need. Say “no” to extra things you really can’t fit on your plate, and don’t feel bad about it! You can’t be everything for everyone, so decide what’s really important, enjoyable, and realistic in your life.
Check Your Environment
Find joy in your surroundings. Open the windows or blinds to let in some sunshine or watch the snow fall. Natural light can make a huge difference in how you view your surroundings. Get outside! Take a walk in the sun. Splash in rain puddles. Build a snowman. Diffuse some essential oils to inspire your senses to be joyful. One of my favorite blends is simply called Joy. Turn on some music instead of the TV. My kids love having dance time. It’s great for them to experience different genres of music. And it gets me moving too, so bonus workout! Tip: If you’re having a rough day, play Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra and try not to move to it. It can’t be done.
Be Part of Your Community
Too often we think we can get fulfillment through interactions on social media or through text, but we NEED relationship with each other in real life! Social media can be great, but we also know how much junk is mixed in there too, which is the opposite of relaxing. Try to plan a girls’ night once a month. My friends and I love Bunco. It’s cheap and is hosted in each other’s homes. Join a weekly Bible study. A lot of these offer childcare too, so it’s a great time for the littles to get some kid interaction as well. Bible Study Fellowship literally has groups all over the world, so chances are there is one near you. Make date night a priority! Recharge with your spouse and challenge yourselves not to talk about the kids or work. Here’s a fun list of date night questions from Marriage365. Plan a coffee and donut date once a week. This can happen in your own home. Just remember to give yourself grace if your home isn’t spotless. I promise your friend needs adult conversation just as much as you do!
Get Some Sleep
Not everyone needs a full 8 hours. Tim can’t get more than 6 or he’s groggy the next day. When I get 8 hours, I feel like I can conquer the world. However many hours you need, just try to make it as restful sleep as possible. I know this is difficult for many of us (talking to you mamas of difficult sleepers), so just do the best you can. Set your phone’s “do not disturb” function and when you wake up in the middle of the night, don’t look at your phone! Put it on a nightstand away from your bed. Bonus: You have to get out of bed to turn the alarm off, so less chance of hitting that snooze button 8 times. Read a book instead of falling asleep to the TV and eliminate the blue light problem. We also like to diffuse cedarwood and lavender essential oils through the night to create a relaxing, calming, and comforting atmosphere. I’m always amazed at how much better we sleep when we diffuse oils. Interestingly, Tim seems to sleep so much better that he tends to not snore on those nights, which means I sleep better and he’s not in danger of being smothered in his sleep. Just saying.
Purposefully Slow Down
Get rid of your desire for control of any unnecessary tasks. Are there some things in your life that you can delegate to others or even do without completely? For me, it has been seriously downsizing our stuff. Less stuff equals less clutter equals less to clean. I have a box in every room so when I come across something we don’t need, it goes in the box, which is later donated. It’s been incredibly freeing. I also delegate simple chores to the kids. My 3-year-old puts the dog away and lets her out whenever we leave and come home. It’s not a big chore, but it’s one less thing I have to do when I’m trying to load everyone up. He also helps with laundry, gathering clothes, sorting, and loading the washer. We’re at a point now, when he hears the washing machine turn on he yells, “Wait for me, Mama! Don’t start without me!” And my itty bitty 18-month-old is excited to help here too. She puts the small wet clothes into the dryer and loves it! Having my kids help with laundry definitely slows down the process, but it reminds me to slow down, remember that I’m training them for life and to enjoy these little moments with them. Bonus: Allowing them to help when they actually want to means less of a struggle to get them to help when they’re older. Start training them young.
Pursue Whatever You Feel Relaxed Doing
Maybe it’s exercise or gardening, a bubble bath or reading a book. Most of us have several things that fit in this category when we really think about it. Finding time to do what we love is the challenge. I actually get up earlier than the rest of my family to pursue relaxation and set the tone for my day. I make coffee and sit down with my Bible and prayer journal and start writing. It’s quiet and at this stage in my life, it’s literally the only time I have alone. I don’t enjoy getting up early, but on the days that I have slept until my kids get up, I find I have less patience. It’s good for all of us when mama pursues relaxation.
The more you say thank you, the more things you will find to be thankful for. And the more you’re thankful for, the less you stress about things that don’t matter. I thank God for hot water every time I take a shower and for ice water on a hot summer day. There are places in this world where those things are completely unavailable to people. Not just hot water or ice, but basic clean drinking water. Be thankful. Start a family dinner tradition of telling each other your top three things you’re thankful for from your day. It’s fun to hear what everyone chooses, especially if you have littles at home. Bonus: Thankfulness is contagious. Your kids will pick up on this and soon you’ll hear them giving thanks for things on their own.
Incorporating just a few of these things into your daily life may just give you the little boost you need to get through this crazy life. Rest. Recharge. Refocus. And find joy all around you. Blessings to you, my sweet friend.